The actuator line (AL) was intended as a lifting line (LL) technique for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) applications. In this paper we prove – theoretically and practically – that smearing the forces of the actuator line in the flow domain forms a viscous core in the bound and shed vorticity of the line. By combining a near-wake representation of the trailed vorticity with a viscous vortex core model, the missing induction from the smeared velocity is recovered. This novel dynamic smearing correction is verified for basic wing test cases and rotor simulations of a multimegawatt turbine. The latter cover the entire operational wind speed range as well as yaw, strong turbulence and pitch step cases. The correction is validated with lifting line simulations with and without viscous core, which are representative of an actuator line without and with smearing correction, respectively. The dynamic smearing correction makes the actuator line effectively act as a lifting line, as it was originally intended.